Versus: In a Pickle at Homegrown and People's Pub

The Dish: The key to a good fried pickle is not in the pickle itself, but in the breading. The majority of fried pickles we've tasted have a coating that, with little prodding, falls right off in a greasy mess. What's the point of deep-frying anything if the deep-fried factor in the equation falls apart after a couple of bites? Hot-dog and hamburger joints around the city (i.e., Po Dog and The Counter) have embraced the fried pickle, serving it both as a bun filler and a side dish. In our quest to find a perfectly briny snack (with a decent dipping sauce) that we could enjoy by the plateful, we found two strong contenders—but only one worth its salt.The Rivals: Homegrown, 3416 Fremont Ave. N., 453-5232. These kosher dills are battered in beer and panko crumbs and served with Creole honey mustard ($3.95). The problem is not in the taste but in the weakness of the coating, which falls off after a bite or two. The batter is also a tad greasy, easily soaking up several napkins by the time we'd finished eating. Homegrown's fried pickles have a nice flavor, but either the recipe or execution needs tweaking to keep the breading intact instead of the oil.People's Pub, 5429 Ballard Ave. N.W., 783-6521. Seems you can't mention People's Pub without mentioning their fried pickles. What makes these pickles so great is the batter. The chef tells us it's all about using good flour and real eggs, and making sure to sufficiently coat the pickles with flour before applying the second egg wash. As at Homegrown, panko is also in the mix. The dill-pickle spears are breaded, deep-fried, and served with garlic aioli ($6.50, $4 during happy hour). The aioli is a little too thick, almost paste-like, but the fried pickles are hard to beat.The Champ: People's Pub, hands down. These dills are coated with just enough breading to create a light and crunchy coating that's fully committed to the pickle. The result is a crisp and delicate texture that's not soggy, greasy, or too thick. It's easy to ruin a good dill pickle. Making it taste even better? That's the hard part. The People's Pub pulls it

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